Happy Friday everyone! The end of the work week is here and the end of week 13 is coming here shortly, and that means we have reached the final part of our series. And the last piece of the puzzle, that makes or breaks whether or not the sim can function as an esport is the community.
It is a touchy subject, and the community seems to be pretty split. You have a group that wants to see the scene grow, see the marketability of the sim grow to sponsors and potentially put on some big events. On the other there are individuals in the community who do not want this at all, and simply want the sim to remain a small niche.
That said, in order for the sim to succeed as an esport (Which I will reiterate, was the entire point of these articles. This was not random “THIS IS WHAT IRACING NEEDS TO DO OR IT IS GONNA GO OUT OF BUSINESS”), the community does need to change.
The main problem is that, the people who generally do not care if the sim succeeds in this respect seem to be in a very vocal majority. You mention esport and there are always aggressive names that come out kicking and screaming about how terrible it is and how it will kill the sim. It is always a toxic discussion to have.
And to be honest, the community legitimately comes across as toxic a large percentage of the time.
At the risk of the article becoming self aware, the response to the first part of this very series is sort of the best example. At time of writing the thread posted by Connery has 5 pages, and virtually the entirety of the thread is stuck discussing whether or not the sim can actually be considered “expensive”. And a very vocal group who thinks that answer is no came out in force.
My issue is not that people disagree with my conclusions, or that people do not think the sim should go down an esports route of thinking.
One of the issues I have is the people who, as a whole, see iRacing as something “different” then a lot of the competition out there. You can’t dare say that it is a game and they validate the cost regardless of the argument. Now do not got me wrong, I love the fact people have this sort of emotional connection to the sim. But the thing is, regardless of how accurate the tracks are, or the tire model is, or how realistic the car is, to probably 90% of the community iRacing is nothing more then a game. A super realistic game, but a game nonetheless.
Yes, the sim has value as a training tool for real world drivers, but how many of the sim’s users are actually real racing drivers? Likely a very small percentage. The rest of us are pretty much playing pretend, but there is nothing wrong with that.
The other line of thinking I find not only naive, and take extremely personally, is the xenophobic idea pushed forth by some about “Oh no we cant have people from those games on iRacing”. Now why do I take this personally? Because my start with semi serious sim racing was Need For Speed Shift 2. I got that game in 2008 with Xbox live and began racing online and was eventually looking for a league to run in. Was none for NFS, but there was for Forza Motorsport 3 so I picked up that title and began racing in a little wanna be GT2 ALMS style league for a couple years.
These were some serious guys running in these leagues. Hours went into setups and practice for this series. Well after it came up one day, and after a few weeks of musing it over, a group of us ordered some wheels and got an iRacing sub. The only person to really keep up with iRacing for the long term was me. And what I have done since then? I developed myself into one of the top GT drivers on the sim competing in top split Endurance events, premier series such as NEO, and plopping myself into the top split for the Indy 500 a few times. I have been a part of 3 of the most well respected teams on the sim in New World Sim Sport, Fenix Motorsports, and Team Chimera. I have led the way in running multiple charity events here on the sim, most notably the Morgan Schooley races which I am particularly proud of. And despite a slight speech impediment, through years of hard work due to my knowledge and experience as a racer I have become one of the premiere broadcasters on iRacing despite no previous broadcasting experience of any kind and will be working 5 of the 6 World Championships in 2018, several of the premiere events, and a variety of some of the best leagues on iRacing.
So for that reason, I find the whole “Oh people from X group are not what we want” argument completely flawed (Unless I am somehow not a good enough example of what you think a sim racer should be) and it holds no water whatsoever. And I also do not get why people would not want to see their primary hobby grow.
In addition the community does not have a very good reputation of being kind to one another. Some of the series are perpetually toxic. The most notable was the Indycar community on iRacing. They all essentially hated each other for a time, and even though that group now gets along much better, people who are not involved with that series believe that they are still incredibly toxic to one another simply based on run ins from years ago. The thing is I have seen similar things throughout most of the communities on iRacing as well.
What is odd though, is outside the realms of the iRacing forums things generally seem much kinder. You see situations on twitter or on various stream chats and people tend to get along and are much more open. Is it people just putting on a face because they aren’t hidden on the forums? Kinda hard to say.
I think overall iRacing is in a really tough position. While they might be able to clamp down on drivers behavior to one another there is really not much they can do when people are so against new users/user bases coming in. You cant just be big brother and tell people how to think, but an attempt should be made somehow to make people more open to new users coming in. It is one thing to not want the sim to move in a particular direction, it is another to prejudge an entire group of people and imply they are not welcome. We should welcome people to come into this and pickup sim racing as a hobby, and potentially add to the real racing fan base as well.
But with that, we mark then end of the Sim Racing Observer’s week 13 round up. Thank you all for checking in, reading, and giving feedback on the forums. Regardless of if you have agreed with me or not thank you for tuning in every day this week. With that, I grant you good luck in your Sebring 12 hours this weekend, and in 2018 Season 2 as well.